Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: Lie by Caroline Bock

Title: Lie
Author: Caroline Bock
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin                     
Release date: August 30th 2011
Pages: 224
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

Goodreads description:
Seventeen year-old Skylar Thompson is being questioned by the police. Her boyfriend Jimmy stands accused of brutally assaulting two young El Salvadoran immigrants from a neighboring town, and she's the prime witness. Skylar is keeping quiet about what she's seen, but how long can she keep it up?
Jimmy was her savior. When her mother died, he was the only person who made her feel safe, protected from the world. But when she begins to appreciate the enormity of what has happened, especially when Carlos Cortez, the victim's brother, steps up to demand justice, she starts to have second thoughts about protecting him.
Jimmy's accomplice, Sean, is facing his own moral quandary. He's out on bail and has been offered a plea in exchange for testifying against Jimmy. Sean must decide whether or not to turn on his friend in order to save himself. But most importantly, both must figure out why they followed someone like Jimmy—someone who bullied people and advocated violence against others—in the first place.

First sentence:
I should be in calculus, reviewing for the final, not at the police station.

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I was so, so excited to read Lie. The cover is gorgeous, and I love the idea - what could get someone to commit such a terrible crime is fascinating, and I thought Skylar's conflict of what to do about it would be too. I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't get into it.

What first surprised me is the high number of points of view. I thought it would just be alternating perspectives, switching between Skylar and Sean, but there are ten different points of view. In my opinion, that's just too many. What annoyed me about the points of view isn't really the mere number, though, it's the way the perspectives are done. Most of these characters aren't even real characters, more like plot devices, the only purpose of their passages being to give more information about the main characters. Basically, all of them (except for the brother and mother of the hate crime victim, of course) talked about how they're a good person and how it's not their fault while expressing totally racist ideas. That just really upset me.

The characters are flat and have no real personalities. There is no showing, only telling. I don't usually mind telling all that much, since I'm a lazy reader, but in Lie, that was too extreme, even for me, since it's seriously all telling. That made it basically impossible for me to get to know and relate to the characters. And what I did know about them, I didn't particularly like. I especially hated Lisa Marie - she's a terrible friend. I keep thinking of a scene in the beginning, talking about how Skylar didn't want to go out or do anything right after her mother died, which annoyed Lisa Marie, who compared it to how she was only sad for a day when her dog died. How could you possibly compare those two things? That made me dislike Lisa Marie, right from the start. Skylar is a character I think I could have related to and felt for, especially about her mother's death, but we get to see almost none of her grief, or any feelings, for that matter, and she's underdeveloped too.

This book should have made me feel for the characters and understand why they acted they way they did, but it just didn't work. Throughout the entire book, I just thought the whole thing was so, so wrong. I should have gotten why people followed and looked up to Jimmy, but he seemed like an ass to me the entire time. Everybody always said 'beaner-hopping' was just for fun, but... really? I can't imagine how no one could say anything against that, and how they couldn't see what was wrong with hurting hispanic immigrants for fun every weeked. The way they justified it, saying they were keeping the town safe and protecting it from immigrants and helping, doesn't even make sense - how does beating up people help anyone? I just never understood their reasoning, and since that's the main part of the book, it didn't really work for me.

The plot is... well, not too much happens, and the whole plot is really slow. The ending is another thing that frustrated me, since it says so little. I would have liked a stronger positive message to make up for the homophobic way of thinking of almost all of the characters.

I really wanted to like this book, but choppy writing, characters I couldn't relate to and too many different perspectives made it hard for me to enjoy. I don't particularly recommend Lie, unless the topic is something you're really, really interested in.


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